Represent ♥’s Everyday Tweeple - Meet @MelanieMinnaar
Je vous présente number 3 in our (newish) series Represent ♥’s Everyday Tweeple- @MelanieMinnaar . Inspired by tweets in our stream that made us want to know more about the hearts and minds behind the 140 characters… Meet Melanie Minaar, she shares some fabulous insights with us… we most hearted finding out about the local term SABC… South African Born Chinese… I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. Sharpile Melanie! Don’t forget to follow Editorista on @sisiwami to find out who’s next in the series… It’s another dude…
Twitter Bio: Head IMC at Standard Bank, mom to archangels Michael & Gabriel, wife to an IT networking consultant. Part of the Chinese diaspora - rooted in Africa.
What is IMC and what is a day in the life of the Head of IMC at Standard Bank?
IMC is a marketing management philosophy that advocates integration of business and marketing, as well as of the various marketing disciplines.
In my position at Standard Bank it stands for ‘Integrated Marketing Communication’ and my role is to primarily ensure synergy of messaging across traditional and emerging/digital media channels, and secondly to optimise how we implement campaigns across the new media spectrum. Marketing Ops and development of the group wide creative look and feel also fall under my responsibility.
A typical day is filled with meetings, meetings, meetings, teleconferences and presentations – all necessary as we operate globally and need to keep use our time effectively to communicate with our non-South African based colleagues and agencies. In between these diary-fillers, there are campaign deadlines to be met – approvals or direction is sought and provided by a network of advertising, online and studio managers.
There is always much to learn when you work for a company like Standard Bank – whether it be about growing your marketing skills, financial service industry acumen or general knowledge about the countries which we operate in.
I am currently enjoying maternity leave so no deadlines other than the next episode of Girls of the Playboy Mansion to look out for…
How would you summarise your nearly 5000 Tweets?
A fellow Tweeter asked me if I had OCD after seeing all my Tweets in their timeline! Sadly, that is how I would describe my online and offline habits. Once I find something that I enjoy, I give it my all. Knowledge and information sharing is key to who I am so my Tweets are predominantly about passing on useful information across a broad range of topics and also engaging in conversation whether it be social or on a topic where I can contribute.
It’s been a great deal of fun that perfectly complements my FaceBook experience. I don’t do foursquare.
(And it’s nearly 6500 tweets now!)
Tell us a little bit about where you live…
I have always lived in South Africa. My career has really been the roadmap to the places I have lived. Been in Johannesburg for 10 years in October this year. Previously I have lived in the Free State province in a small town called Thaba ‘Nchu and before that in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape province. I was born in the Eastern Cape province in a small seaside town called East London. I miss the seaside a lot.
I love the area where I live now – it has a small town community feel (everybody knows your name) with all the big name amenities within arms’ reach. The location is so perfect and nothing is too far away to travel to. We’re slap bang in the middle of the burgeoning Sandton suburb but just two blocks away there is a beautiful park complete with stables, a river and a community centre.
South Africa is not a big country in geographical standards but it is hugely diverse in its landscapes and cultures. We are in our teenage years of our democracy and with that comes the challenges, trials and tribulations associated with our development. We are only starting to honestly explore what diversity and transformation mean on a personal level without simply following in the slipstream of the great Mr. Nelson Mandela. We are learning that there are new meanings and practicalities behind words that we learnt about in the political context of the ‘old’ South Africa; SEGREGATION (not by Race but by wealth and opportunities), RACISM (not necessarily Black & White but also in the xenophobic context), NATIONAL PRIDE (no longer Them vs. Us but by the realization of how we have to come together to build our new country).
Who are the two Things?
The “Things” are my gorgeous sons. Thing 1 is the oldest (5 years old) and Thing 2 is the baby (3 months old). They are named after Archangels (we live in hope). I suppose the 3rd Thing would be the Big Thing also known as Dad. I love having boys and am not embarrassed to say they’re the stereotypical “Mommy’s Boys”.
Tell us how you came to be part of the Chinese diaspora and how does this affect your identity as a South African?
Me and my 3 brothers are considered “SABC2’s”. This means we are 2nd generation South African born Chinese.
My grandparents came over to South Africa to escape communism in China. They were not part of the group of miners/indentured labourers that came out from China at the beginning of the last century.
Growing up ‘mixed’ was relatively easy in East London as the city was more welcoming and embracing of the Chinese contingent than most other cities in South Africa at the time. When I was in primary school I had to fill in a form regarding my Race. The only options were White, Black, Indian and Coloured. Not knowing how to go about completing the form my mother told me to write ‘Stir-fry’ and “let them figure it out!”
We were raised in the Chinese ways and following traditional Chinese culture. I was once asked if I ate Chinese food at home and had to ask my mother if that was the case. In many ways the “SABC’s” are more versed in old-fashion Chinese traditions as we repeated what we learnt from our great-grandparents and mostly never kept up with the changes and developments abroad – especially regarding food.
It has only been very recently that South African-born Chinese have been acknowledged as part of the marginalised and previously disadvantaged communities from the Apartheid era. This has had a marked effect on the psyche of the South African-born Chinese community who now can feel more accepted by the country of our birth.
Our identity is further complicated by our religious paths. In China my family would have been Taoist. In South Africa the Chinese community were predominantly Roman Catholic (although there has been a great deal of religious fragmentation with the SABC generation) as it was this church which accepted the Chinese people in great numbers and granted us access to their schools and afforded us the opportunity for an education.
I strongly recommend the following books for anyone interested in learning more about the history and place of the Chinese community in South Africa:
Suggested reading: All Under Heaven by Darryl Accone and
Colour, Confusion and Concessions by Melanie Yap and Diane Leong Man
Who is your favourite queen - Priscilla or Diana and why?
Me and Me! I am secretly flamboyant and extravagant, with centre-stage tendencies (wow! Did I actually say that?), so my favourite queen has to be “Priscilla”. “Priscilla” reminds me that even though we’re all different we can learn from the underlying morals, lessons and experiences from each other – love, life and … everything else. She also has a wardrobe of note in which every girl – big or small – could indulge and lose themselves in fantasy dress-up. I think it’s much more exciting to know your Hilda’s, Dora’s & Nora’s rather than your Countesses, Duchesses & Ladies. How wonderful it would be to just be yourself – and flaunt it!
Diana – she was great! For all the right reasons. Just not as much fun.
What are your top 3 most extraordinary human abilities?
My long-time friends would all describe me as very loyal and fiercely protective of those close to me.
I’m known to be quite insightful, to see beyond the superficial and facades that people hide behind for whatever reason.
Resilience. If I was Jen Su and faced with all the criticism that I’m dishing out – I would keep going and try harder J
What do you believe are the imperfections of South Africa that make us endearing?
I find South Africans to be quite naïve which allows us to openly embrace new relationships and always with a curiosity about those fortunate to visit our gorgeous country.
We also lack the confidence that comes with an established national identity which means we want to learn more to better ourselves.
What makes up an ideal brilliant Autumn day in Joburg? Why Joburg? Where in Joburg?
Imagine this… the strong summer heat has been replaced with a pleasant cool that still has the backdrop of a bright summer sun and crisp blue sky. There is a calm breeze that ensures we swap our iced drinks for warming cocktails – but never a forceful wind to push you inside again. You can feel that winter is on its way but the South African sun still comes out to remind you that summer will return sooner than later.
Joburg’s weather is SO much better than Cape Town. All year round. But, then, they do have THAT mountain.
Joburgers are fortunate in that we get to enjoy the best South African weather for most of the year and we also get to ‘borrow’ the coastal weather when we need to – but always return to the Highveld.
You’d like to teach the world to read, what other 3 things would you like to teach the world?
Dream. Think. Plan.
Dream – Never stop dreaming. Dreams shape our lives according to our hidden passions.
Think – Our lives have become too rushed. We look for instant gratification and feel obligated to answer and do NOW! Take time to think and explore other options – and to even change our mind.
Plan – This goes hand-in-hand with ‘Think’. If it’s worth doing then it’s worth planning. Planning also encourages to interact with other people – we need to be less insular and more collaborative and cooperative.
How many minutes does it take you to fall asleep?
Not long. When I get the chance.
WTF makes up 7 courses of a reception lunch and who can fit that it?
Your question refers to my Tweet about the reception lunch following Thing 2’s baptism. There is hardly ever just one main dish served at a Chinese meal (there is usually one dish served for as many people dining). Soup is not considered a ‘main dish’ in Chinese custom – and soup is almost always served. Seven dishes is considered auspicious for the celebration of a new child so nothing less would do. In fact, if we did it properly we could have had a 12-course meal.
For Thing 2’s baptism we enjoyed the following mains:
· Běi jīng kǎo yā (Peking duck with hoisin sauce & pancakes)
· Peking-style crispy chicken with lemon & pepper
· Whole steamed fish with ginger and spring onions
· Barbecued pork spareribs
· Dòu fu huǒ guō (Bean curd hotpot)
· Bok choy with bean curd
· Choy sum with garlic
In addition we had Duck-bone and melon soup and, naturally, steamed rice was also served.
The dessert was Sweet Paste Buns (steamed lotus seed buns) which, in contrast to Western custom, is served during the meal as a filler. Traditionally Red Eggs would be served but we served the buns marked with red colour instead.
The celebration meal was finished off with fresh fruit slices.
My favourite Chinese restaurants in Joburg are:
- Kawayi on 11th Street in Parkmore for their GREAT SERVICE (Kiki is the best!), Duck or Shrimp Chow Mein and their Hot-and-Sour Soup.
- Swallows in old China Town in Commissioner Street in the Jozi CBD for EVERYTHING fabulously Cantonese. Excellent VALUE.
- Fong Mei in Derrick Avenue in Cyrildene and on Rivonia Boulevard in Sandton for their Peking Duck and Hakka Pork. Service is slow but grub is great!
My favourite Chinese cookbook is The Every Day Chinese Cookbook edited by Linda Doeser and published by Hermes House. Get it! You’ll use it over and over again.
What have people learnt about you from your actual Tweets on Twitter?
I’ll let them speak for themselves. This is what my Tweeps said when I posed this question to them:
“Insomniac, Catholic, work in marketing, have kids, child of the 80’s, have strong opinions on certain things.”
“Measured, wise, thoughtful, calm, loving.”
“Curious, inquisitive, knowledgeable, AWESOME MOM! , intelligent, sense of humour, patient, insomniac!!”
“Roman Catholic and have strong faith. Loyal to your employer You love your family but need your career.”
“Warm, friendly switched on career woman and great mom.”
“Incredible sense of humour, highly intelligent, can be stand-offish if someone oversteps.”
“To me you are very open and honest. I admire that.”
Where would you most like to be employed?
This is a toughie… Practical versus Ideal…
I once had the opportunity to work on the island of Malta on a contract-basis. Destination-wise it surely doesn’t get better than that.
3M has always held magical appeal for me since I learnt that they reward and pay for IDEAS whether they implement them or not. I hope they never change – the world needs visionaries like this.
What are your top 5 tips for new Moms?
1. Babies are more resilient than we think; if they get sick it’s not your fault – they just get sick, they bump their heads and fall off things – okay so do try to be careful but when it happens you’ll finally give a sigh of relief when you realise that they do live beyond the little knocks. Every time I look at Thing 1 I shake my head at myself and thank God for the miracle that he is still in one piece.
2. Get help in the first couple of weeks. Not hubby or your partner.; you’ll both need support and help. And, don’t feel ashamed to ask for help – you’ll be surprised at how generous with love and kindness people are to you in these early stages.
3. What you do is right for your child; you can’t bond with YOUR child according to someone else’s ways, your new baby only knows YOU and YOUR WAYS and that’s the way it should be. (My mother only told me after Thing 1 was born that I was raised on Nestlé’s Carnation Milk! I supposed I could have been taller but I’m okay overall.)
4. Do things with love, not just because they need to be done; relax, take a deep breath – yes there are things to be done and they will get done but while you’re ‘getting things done’ ENJOY every moment and be present in that moment.
5. Join a mommy-forum; these online forums are fantastic and always ‘ON’ when you need advice, support, some adult conversation or even to knock some sense back into you when you have a wobbly day (these do and will happen!). It’s not about getting people to like you but more about getting what you need from the forums. I met some of my best friends on these forums and we’ve moved our relationships from virtual to real-life.